The Eubie Blake Jazz Institute and Cultural Center is about a football field length from my house as the crow flies, and oddly enough I made my first trip there last week to visit with Sharayna Christmas-Rose, the Executive Director of Muse360, The creator of Rayn Fall Dance Studio, and the mastermind behind Dancing Many Drums, a youth arts education program. Christmas-Rose, a Harlem raised Morgan State grad, spent her early 20s on Wall Street and working in the financial field before moving back to Baltimore to follow her passion – dance and youth development. First came the preparatory dance studio in 2003 – it is a place for the youth of Baltimore to learn many forms of dance, including traditional classical ballet, modern, jazz and more. After officially leaving the finance world, Christmas-Rose started Muse 360 Arts as an umbrella non-profit for all of her artistic endeavors, including Rayn Fall Dance Studio, the Dancing Many Drums program, which launched in 2007, and the newest Spark of Genius: Youth Entrepreneur Project . She now works full-time-and-a-half making sure Baltimore’s youth artists are cultivated into strong individuals that are proud of their roots and desirous for success.
The adolescents of Dancing Many Drums, a six week summer program, just returned (along with Rose) from the Dominican Republic where they continued their study of the Arts through the African Diaspora that’s woven into everyday Dominican life. Learning traditional Dominican dance, visiting the Mahatma Ghandi Foundation and teaching Dominican children dance and theatre were just a few of the many enriching activities the DMD scholars got to enjoy.
On Thursday night, August 1st, I had the pleasure of attending the Dancing Many Drums presentation at Eubie Blake. The performance featured each scholar sharing their enlightened education via several different outlets including a Malcolm X poem, a multimedia performance which included video on the famous Dominican Revolutionary Minerva Mirabal (one of the Butterfly sisters), a mural on Haitian Voodoo and more. After an hour and a half, it was easy to forget that many of the youngsters haven’t even graduated from high school – they exuded more passion and poise than most adults I see perform – stage, TV, film, music or otherwise. It’s comforting to know that many of these young African Americans will go on to become prominent, future leaders in Baltimore. I was moved, to say the least. The Robert W. Deutsch Foundation is a proud supporter of Muse 360 Arts and all of Rose’s work in Baltimore.